LONDON - The cost of Somali piracy to the global economy fell by almost half last year as attacks slumped, but piracy in West Africa was on the rise, an annual security report said on Wednesday.
The Oceans beyond Piracy report put the total cost of Somali piracy - by far the largest single threat to international shipping in recent years - at only $3.2 billion in 2013.
There were still at least 50 hostages in Somali captivity in desperate conditions, held on average for most three years each, the report said.
Gauging the level of threats in the Gulf of Guinea was difficult because of incomplete reporting but it was clear that rising numbers of seafarers were being kidnapped, it said.
At the height of Somali pirate attacks in 2011, up to a dozen or more merchant ships were being held captive at any one time, often for multimillion dollar ransoms.
Since then, growing use of private security details and the presence of international warships have largely prevented successful attacks. No large vessels were seized in 2013. "The efforts of the international community and the shipping industry have considerably reduced the threat of Somali piracy,"says Jens Madsen, one of the report sources.